ST. PETERSBURG — 1B Carlos Peña could hardly believe his eyes. He had always considered the Gold Glove award special, something that he valued and would cherish. But when he actually saw it on the field prior to Wednesday's pregame ceremony, it was even more powerful than he had anticipated.
"It's a beautiful trophy, first of all. It's really nice looking," said Peña, who also hit his fourth homer of the season in the fourth. "But what it represents means the world to me. I've taken pride in my defense and worked really hard. To get recognized, I'm very grateful for it."
The award was the first for Peña, and the first for a Ray.
"Hopefully it won't be the last one," he said. "I would love to get many more of those, and I'm going to keep on working for them."
Manager Joe Maddon said there was no doubt Peña was deserving after a "spectacular" season with just two errors and a .998 fielding percentage that was best among AL infielders.
And he is confident Peña isn't the only Ray who is worthy, considering C Dioner Navarro, OFs Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton and INFs Evan Longoria, Jason Bartlett and Akinori Iwamura all potential winners.
"We're off to a pretty good start. I think everybody's been showing what we've been talking about," Maddon said.
"It's something I've challenged all the infielders and outfielders to do this year, and actually the pitching staff, is to win a Gold Glove. That is one of our goals, a group goal, to have several guys win Gold Gloves this year."
Peña doesn't expect to be alone for long.
"This will not be the last one you see from a Ray, I can tell you that right now," he said.
LONGORIA REPORT: 3B Evan Longoria's two-game absence is due to a death in the family, Maddon said. The Rays were aware of the situation for a couple of days as Longoria was trying to coordinate scheduling to fly to California. "He's just been trying to figure out the right day to go home," Maddon said.
Willy Aybar played third in Longoria's place Wednesday and will do so again tonight. Pat Burrell moved into the No. 3 spot in the order. Longoria, who leads the majors with five home runs, is expected back Friday.
CROWD CONTROL: Though Wednesday's crowd of 25,171 snapped the Rays' sellout streak at 12, it gave them a three-game total of 99,117, fourth highest for a weekday series in team history.
IZZY UPDATE: RHP Jason Isringhausen will pitch again this weekend in extended spring training then head to Double-A Montgomery, then move up to Triple-A Durham, but he still has no timetable to join the Rays. "We'll go from there and see how it goes," he said.
DELAY OF GAME: First pitch was delayed 10 minutes, to 4:18, due to an interruption in power from a substation that feeds Tropicana Field, the result of damage, the Rays said, from Tuesday's storms.
MINOR MATTERS: INF Adam Kennedy hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the 13th to give Triple-A Durham a 5-3 win over Gwinnett. LHP David Price makes his second start tonight. … RHP Jeremy Hellickson is 2-0 at Montgomery with a season scoreless streak of 102/3 innings, having allowed only eight baserunners.
MISCELLANY: All players wore No. 42 in tribute to Jackie Robinson; Rays coaches Steve Henderson and George Hendrick threw out first pitches to Crawford and Upton. … The St. Petersburg Area Chamber Foundation hosts its annual Rays luncheon today at the Coliseum (535 Fourth Ave. N); tickets are $35 and available at stpete.com or by calling (727) 388-5730. … The Rays are 2-8-2 in their home-opening series. … Former Rays radio man Paul Olden will be the PA announcer (filling in for Bob Sheppard) at today's opening of the new Yankee Stadium. … Inside The Rays: A Breakthrough Season debuts at 10:30 p.m. Friday on Sun Sports, after game coverage. … Bartlett batted sixth for the third time in his career (twice last year).